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Fashion is ‘In’ at George Washington University Art Galleries

‘Fast Fashion/Slow Art’ and ‘In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection,’ Shine a Light on Less Glamorous Side of a Powerhouse Industry

August 08, 2019

Amelia Thompson: [email protected], 202-994-6460
Maralee Csellar: [email protected], 202-994-6460

WASHINGTON (Aug. 8, 2019)—Much of the fashion industry is dominated by attractive models, flashy clothing and impossible beauty standards on the runway, but what about the parts you don’t see? “Fast Fashion/Slow Art” explores issues of waste and consumerism in the garment industry, while “In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection” showcases photographs and portraits of well-known designers and individuals connected to fashion. Both exhibitions opened today at the Flagg Building, home of George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.

Fast Fashion/Slow Art” comprises films, videos, installations and performances by a diverse group of emerging and established contemporary artists and filmmakers who, collectively, encourage scrutiny of today’s garment industry. Sustainability, both in terms of labor and the environment, has become a pressing issue with regard to fashion. This is especially true when we consider fast fashion: inexpensive, trendy clothing produced for a mass market. This show encourages consideration of the complexities of the garment industry that is part of our everyday lives.

“We would like visitors to think about the origins of the clothing they wear, the environmental impact of its production and its cost in human labor,” co-curator Bibiana Obler, an associate professor of art history at GW, said.

“Although this exhibition cannot solve the intractable problems plaguing the textile and clothing industry, it can be a place from which to address those issues with creativity and imagination,” co-curator Phyllis Rosenzweig, a curator emerita at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, added.

“Fast Fashion/Slow Art” features artists and filmmakers from China, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the U.S., including Julia Brown, Carole Frances Lung, Cat Mazza, Senga Nengudi, Martha Rosler, Hito Steyerl, Martin de Thurah, Rosemarie Trockel and Wang Bing. Also presented as part of the exhibition are two web programs, “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt” and “Sweatshop—Deadly Fashion.”

Fast Fashion/Slow Art” is organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine, in cooperation with the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. The exhibition will close on Dec. 15 and then travel to Bowdoin in Jan. 2020.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the George Washington University to demonstrate the important role the arts can play in opening up questions about the fashion industry and related questions regarding labor, sustainability and handcraft,” Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, noted. “We want to shine a light on these important issues, giving them increased visibility and providing visitors with an opportunity to reconsider their own relationship to textiles, design and clothing today.” 

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog, published by Scala, with an introduction by the curators and guest essays by scholars Pietra Rivoli, Kirsty Robertson and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu.

In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection,” is a companion exhibition at GW’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery. Fashion designers can become synonymous with their designs—a little black dress, a handbag or a scarf—that become the most popular item of the moment. But the face of the designer hasn’t always been as prominent as the creation. A number of the photographs on view are portraits of well-known designers, models and fashion industry insiders including Carolina Herrera, Neiman Marcus, Mick Jagger, Tippi Hedren and Brigitte Bardot. “In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection” will close on Oct. 27, 2019.

“Fashion and photography have long been synonymous. The alliance between artists and celebrities, as in the case of Andy Warhol, relates to the fashion scene in New York of the late 1970s and 1980s,” Lenore Miller, director of the Brady Gallery, said. “We are excited to share works from GW’s art collection including a print by Larry Rivers and a drawing by Jody Mussoff.”


Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is a community of civically engaged artists and practitioners, aiming to impact the world through social change.

George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum
The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum celebrates the creative achievements of local and global cultures from antiquity through today. The museum unites The Textile Museum, established in 1925, and the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies to engage the university and the wider community through collections, scholarship, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Luther W. Brady Art Gallery
The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery presents ongoing exhibitions of contemporary art that bring national recognition to the GW Collection through critical review, quality, name recognition and above all, education. The George Washington University began collecting art in 1821. Luther W. Brady (1925-2018), B.A. '46, M.D. '48, the gallery's namesake and benefactor, was a world-renowned oncologist who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the university.  

Bowdoin College Museum of Art
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is the cornerstone of the arts and culture at Bowdoin. One of the earliest collegiate art collections in the nation, it came into being through the 1811 bequest of James Bowdoin III of 79 European paintings and a portfolio of 140 master drawings. The collection has been expanded through the generosity of the Bowdoin family, alumni and friends, and now numbers more than 20,000 objects, including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and artifacts from prehistory to the present from civilizations around the world.